Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

I Gain Credit as a Guide

Because of all that had happened I found no reason to complain of the manner in which watch was kept over the encampment that night, and at a fairly early hour next morning, even before I had begun to expect them, the Indians came into camp with two of the cows. They talked much about their innocence so far as causing a stampede and claimed that it was not possible to find the third beast.

The Pawnee who acted as spokesman would have tried to make me believe they were simply in sport when they overrode our camp; but I let him know that I was acquainted with such thievish tricks, and threatened them as to the future, much as though I had a company of soldiers at my back.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

It may be that the Indians were not greatly frightened by what I said; but certain it is that the members of John Mitchell's company began to believe that I was to be treated less like a boy, and more after the manner of one who knew somewhat regarding the work in which we were engaged.

They gave more heed to my words from that time on, and Susan Mitchell seemed to think I had done some wondrously brave deed when I frightened the cowardly red men, or attempted to; but we never again saw that third cow.

I believe that the Pawnees had hidden her, intending to have a great feast after we had gone away; but I dared not go any farther in the way of threats lest they openly defy me, when I would have been powerless because the men of our company were not equal to fighting the savages.

I could have told Susan that if we had come across a party on the warpath, then my words would have been laughed at, and I might have found myself in serious trouble through making threats which could not be carried into execution.